The future urban world
It is appropriate in a book that adopts a historical approach and a global perspective to conclude with a brief consideration of how the urban world may evolve in the near future. Forecasting population levels, distributions and socio-economic conditions in a single country is a difficult enough task and attempts to undertake this sort of exercise at the global scale can only yield predictions that are little more than guesstimates. This chapter is therefore grounded in speculation rather than in detailed analysis. What is clear, however, because they are products of long-term and deep-seated processes that have yet to run their course, is that urban growth and urbanisation will lead to further significant urban development. Most will be in those parts of the world that are presently classified as developing. Even over the next quarter of a century the changes that are expected are staggering. Extrapolation of current trends suggests that the number of people who presently (2003) live in urban places is likely to rise by 50 per cent by the year 2025.